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IN OIL COLOURS,
ON SETTING AND PAINTING THE FIGURE.
^rs ptobat artificem.
WINSOR AND NEWTON, 38, RATHBONE PLACE.
«rli»t«* eoUmt fBtaiters, bg Ajecial «3f^mV««RvV, \svlpLtx »a.\t*v^, -a:^ ^^
Printed by Schulze and Co., 13, Poland Street.
Points of personal identity . . .
Fidelity of resemblance
The economy of the palette
The palette for the first paintin^;^
Colours and tints fur the first painting
For grey, green and half tints to meet and break the carnations
The first painting
Practical recapitulation of the first painting
The preparation of the work for the second painting
The palette for the second and third paintings . . .
Carnations of a lower tone . . .
Flesh tinU in half tone
Warm grey3 in half light
Hair tinU— light
Shading for brown hair
Red, slightly violet, sometimes seen in the lips, nostrils, and ears
Half tints, or passages in which the skin is extremely thin ...
Bluish tints, to cool passages that have become too foxy
Half tints and retiring
Brolcen bluish and greenish hues occurring round the mouth and chin
A variety of strong greys
For strengthening shades
Shade and glazing tints
The second painting
The mouth ...
The hair *
The neck, shoulders, &c. . . .
The arms and hands
The third and finishing; painting
The treatment of personal defect
Handling and texture
Palettes for backgrounds . . .
For plain and close backgrounds
Landscape or open background
For skies and clouds
Method of painting a plain background
The relief of the head, or the figure
Varieties of method
Setting the figure
Painting the figure
POINTS OF PERSONAL IDENTITY.
Portraiture is considered an inferior department of
fine art, but if this be true, wherefore is it that so few of
its professors ever attain to signal eminence ? It is no
part of our purpose here to discuss the question, but if it
be easy to endow a head with thought, and lips with lan-
guage, and to paint benevolence, magnanimity, and all
the virtues, then portrait painting is an art of little
account. It is well known that many of the greatest
painters that have ever lived have painted portraits, and
with unequal success ; but this fact is uncared for, and
this best abused of all the arts remains but the hand-
maiden of her sisters.
Portraiture is the branch of art which has preceded all
others in the English school; it has been carried to a
degree of excellence in this country which has not been
generally arrived at by others of the existing schools of
Europe. The high and rare qualities of the ^tt ^aca. ^sv^
2 POINTS OF PERSONAL IDENTITY.
be communicated to a work after years of anxious study ;
all the niceties of execution are mechanical^ but the power
of vivifying the canvas is an intellectual faculty.
In the simply physical resemblance, the imitation of
feature, colour, and personal characteristic, are indis-
pensable ; and in order to achieve this resemblance, the
features must be studied from various points of view,
that the painter may know as well the real form of the
features, as that which is presented to him in the particular
view upon which he has determined.
In all the best works of this class, each feature has
been so carefully rendered, that, were it necessary, a
sculptural model of the head might be executed ; but at
the same time the whole is so harmonized, that each
feature eflFectively maintains its place without importuning
the eye of the spectator.
The painter must be consistent in working out the sen-
timent he has proposed; that is, if the mouth relaxes
into any degree of suavity of expression, the eyes and the
cheeks must coincide in the same feeling. Inconsist-
ency in this is a default into which a student might fall,
but he must see it, and endeavour to remedy it ; we only
mention the probability, in order to take occasion to
recommend that forethought which guards the painter
against the necessity of gratuitous corrections.
Every individual is distinguished by certain pecuUari-
ties of person and feature; such distinctions may not
be felt so impressively by friends and relations as by
strangers, who are at once struck by them. In a
portrait, however, these characteristics are recognised
by friends as contributing to fix the identity of imper-
sonation. It may be that the prominent individuality is an
imperfection ; in this case, the painter will present a view
of the person and features, in which the defect is either
imperceptible or modified ; for it is his great purpose, not
only to imitate what he sees, but to bring forward those
POINTS OP PERSONAL IDENTITY. 3
points which are confessedly the most advantageous to the
representation of the sitter. And if in comparing the
merits of the finished work with the manner and presence
of the subject, the impression conveyed by the former be
less grateful to the spectator than the feeUng induced by
the latter, this' is sufiicient to convince the painter that
he has failed in doing due justice to the subject.
Although, however, the best spirit of portrait painting
prescribes, and the licences of art permit, a representation
as favourable as possible to the sitter, there is yet a limit
which is definable only by the peculiarities of each case.
If in cases of personal imperfection a resemblance can be
obtained without signaUzing the blemish, it is within the
rules of legitimate practice to subdue it ; but this must be
efiected with great discretion, and with the preservation
of a distinct impersonation, otherwise the painter will
inevitably fall into a uniform manner of representation,
in which all distinctive character will be lost.
The portraits of persons of eminence and celebrity
should be as little treated as possible; they should be
represented with the most scrupulous fidelity, because
their portrait is rather a public than a private property.
In full-length figures much of the resemblance depends
on the stature and proportions ; for how accurately soever
the head be painted, if the entire impersonation do not
correspond, the likeness is defective. The student will
very soon learn that the aspect of a subject is hable to
change. It is difficult for a person to maintain any given
position long together, and a young painter might be
induced to alter his dispositions according to the changes
of the sitter ; but in doing so, he will find that he will
never be able to represent one of the many positions pre-
sented to him ; he must, therefore, determine to realize
that into which the sitter has been first placed, working
it out as circumstances may admit.
The face is variable, as well in colour a% va. ^-x^-t^^'e^^sss^s
4 FIDELITY OF RESEMBLANCE.
the features lose their colour^ and in the restraint of sitting,
settle into an expression generally altogether different from
everything that is desirable in & portrait. It becomes^
therefore^ expedient to observe the best phase of the
countenance at the time of commencing the sittings as
soon afterwards the effect of fatigue is too plainly obvious ;
the spirits flag, and with the vivacity of the features even
the freshness of the complexion departs.
FIDELITY OF RESEMBLANCE.
There are generally in every set of features certain
leading traits which may be readily seized by a painter,
and which, when represented with common fidelity, at once
determine a resemblance. But a facility in this is the lowest
quality of portrait painting, and hence there is a more
extensive class of artists who can map a resemblance than
can endow a portrait with character and intelligence.
How accurately soever may be portrayed the physical
man, the best part of the identity is wanting if vital
expression and animation be absent. Every individual is
distinguished by some particular aspect, either of anima-
tion or repose ; and if the characteristic be agreeable, it
should be the great purpose of the painter to communi-
cate this expression to his work. Should it be unfavour-
able, another, although less striking, must be essayed;
but in order that the purpose be definite, and kept con-
stantly in view, it should be determined, on or before, the
first sitting. Sometimes the best aspect is only seen
from time to time, at moments when the subject forgets
that he is sitting as a study : this is a feeling extremely
difficult to catch; but whether it be successfully repre-
sented or not, it is essential that there should be either
a relief or maintenance about the impersonation^ devoid of
all consciousness of sitting for a portrait.
FIDELITY OF RESEMBLANCE. 6
It is difficult for the unpractised artist to endue the
features with a transient expression ; but no study must
be spared in order to acquire this masterly power. It is
customary with the accomplished artist to sustain a con-
versation with the sitter, if animated expression be the
phase which he intends to paint, and this, in a majority
of instances, is the case. It sometimes occurs, that per-
sons in conversation emphasize their observations by some
slight distortion ; the most common is, perhaps, a slight
elevation of the eyebrows, so habitual as to be unknown
to themselves, and unobserved by intimate friends. The
painter will allow himself no approach to anything of this
kind ; in such cases, the countenance must be painted in
There is a class of sitters who insist upon being painted
precisely " as they are,^' they desire no modifications,
but wish to see simply their veritable selves without
flattery or qualification ; and frequently the young artist,
in the simplicity of his inexperience, endeavours to meet
their wishes ; and the more satisfactory, in certain cases,
such a portrait may be to the artist, it was never yet
wholly agreeable to a sitter : for in respect of personal
appearance human nature is at best '' indifferent honest.*'
It frequently happens that the result of a first sitting
is more like the subject than the finished production.
This fact ought to inculcate a valuable lesson: as the
finishing progresses, the resemblance diminishes; hence,
when the painter is sufficiently a master of manipulation,
he will finish with less labour, but more decision,
and will command a great measure of success. The
decision of which we speak here has nothing to do with
severity, which is the result of timidity and feebleness.
In painting any picture, to know where to stop, is as
valuable an acquisition as to know where to begin; to
be able to discriminate between those passages which re-
6 FIDELITY OP RESEMBLANCE.
quire refinement, and those to which freedom and breadth
are indispensable. Detail very frequently deprives the
principal lights and breadths of the eflfect which they
ought to possess; and with this effect, the natural and life-
like character of the work is destroyed.
In order to the recognition of a person whom we know,
even at such a distance that the figure is but clearly per-
ceptible, it is only necessary to be able to distinguish
the personal conformation, or the movement of the figure;
it is indifferent whether the back or the face be presented,
the individual can be recognised. This should be borne
in mind, since it shows how much personal characteristic
contributes to likeness, and shows also conversely that
minute manipulation is not necessary to identity.
In the mere forms of the principal masses of shade,
with the assistance of the gradations and the opposition of
the lights, there resides a strong identity, independently
of minute markings, because the contour of the head and
figure thus defined afford resemblance in the main essen-
tials, without which there is no identity. It is, therefore,
indispensable to secure those distinctions of personal form
which are peculiar to every individual. For these the
artist must look ; they are never so prominent as to amount
to personal defect or eccentricity of manner ; but they are
physical points, in which, when judiciously treated, some
of the best qualities of portraiture exist. If the personal
style be graceful this will be maintained, and if allowable,
enhanced ; if the contrary, it will be qualified.
The power of masculine expression lies in the under
lip, the forehead, the chin, and of course, in the graver
language of the eye. The sweetness of the feminine
graces resides in the mouth and eyes, especially at the
exterior comer and below the eyes, at the comers of the
mouth, and in the play of the lower lip.
It may be said^ as an observation generally applicable.
The sketch. 7
that to hit the happy mediara in the treatment of mas-^
culine and feminine expression^ is perhaps the greatest
excellence in the art. In the former, the object is to ex-
press that quality of intelligence which is the characteristic
of the sitter, without falling into severity ; in the latter,
the purpose is to endow the features with vitality and
sweetness without conveying into them an unmeaning
simper. And such is the variable expression of the
human countenance, that the painter may only now and
then see the character he seeks ; but he must avail him-
self of these occasions with light and free, but careful
Besides character and expression, there is also necessary
to successful portraiture fidelity of colour, with which
must be considered texture, or the nature of the surface
of the skin. Delicacy of colour and delicacy of texture
are qualities that are generally found associated; but in-
asmuch as the one is obvious to the eye, and the other a
result of mechanical experience, it is not necessary to
dwell in anywise upon properties which are acquired by
simple observation and practice.
As the relief of the features, and the apparent round-
ness of the head, depend entirely upon the manner of
lighting the sitter ; it may be here necessary to ofier a
few observations on a matter, a little knowledge of which
will facilitate the labours of the painter, and aflFord every
advantage to his subject.
The portrait should be painted under one light ; which
is usually obtained from the upper part of a window facing
the north or east ; the lower part being closed.
In the best male portraits there is always a suflScient
proportion of shade to give force and substance to the
bead. It is distributed under the eyebrows^ an<lt.W%<!ssR,
8 THE SKETCH.
eyes become the striking feature of the inask ; it is palv
tially broken about the mouthy and under^ or on one side
of the nose^ according to the pose of the sitter with refer*
ence to the light.
But if the subject be a lady^ it is usual to place the
features in a broad lights and paint the portrait with only
just sufficient shade to secure the roundness of the head
and the relief of the features. The same observation
applies to studies of aged persons ; if they be placed
under a high light, the traces of years become promi-
As the painter stands at his easel to work^ it is necessary
that the eye of the sitter should be raised to the same
height as that of the artist ; or in a small degree higher^
in order that the head be presented nearly on the same
plane as that of the spectator. This adjustment is effected
by raising the chair of the sitter by means of a small
platform^ about two feet high^ which together with the
chair is called a *' throne.^'
It is the practice of some authorities to make a careful
chalk drawing of the head on paper ; this^ as a first step,
might be useful to the student, since it would serve at
least always to assist him in preserving his outline, which
is frequently injured or l6st in dealing with some of the
subsequent difficulties of the study. It must, however,
be acknowledged, that such a method of commencing and
conducting a portrait may lead to that tameness of execu-
tion which is ever the characteristic of copying. Hence the
work might be altogether deficient of that spirit, freedom,
and decision of touch, which it should be the earnest object
of the painter to acquire.
The sketch is commenced on the canvas with charcoal,
a material admirably adapted to this purpose, in conse-
quence of the facility with which the drawing may be
corrected. This first sketch having been satisfactorily
made out, the surface particles of the charcoal are carefully
THE ECONOMY OP THE PALETTE. 9
swept off with a soft silk handkerchief^ or anything else
sufficiently light to leave the outline and markings dis-
tinct. The drawing is then continued with black or red
chalky with all the care and nicety necessary to produce
a resemblance as perfect as possible in character and
The drawing is then retraced with colour, the outline
being repeated with lightness and delicacy, and all the
markings and gradations duly laid in. The tint employed
for this purpose may be almost any warm, transparent
combination, as Umber and Lake, Umber and Indian
Bed, Black and Indian Red, or even Umber alone.
In the practice of some artists the chalk is succeeded
by a warm water-colour tint, to which ox-gall has been
added, to make it flow and work freely; in either case the
tool employed is a small sable pencil.
Every care must be given to accuracy of drawing, any
errors in the delineation of the eyes, nose, and mouth
must now be corrected.
The colour should be driven in a manner free and
transparent, similar to that of a wash of Sepia, or Indian
Ink, with an effect like that of mezzotinto ; in those parts
of the study where the lights fall, the tint will be driven
very sparingly, but of course with deeper gradations in
the parts that retire into shade.
The sketch being brought forward according to these
instructions, it will be aUowed to dry; after which the
first painting, or dead colouring, may oe commenced.
THE ECONOMT OF THE PALETTE.
The economy of the palette, and the composition of
tints, has always been a difficulty in the early practice of
the student. The arrangement, however, and the tints
which we propose, will, we trust, save much time in doubt*
10 THE ECONOMY OF THE PALETTE.
ial experiment, and guard him against many morticing
It is not unueual to compose but a few tints, and
to strengthen or rnlnce them by adding the necessary
colour with the point of tht brush at the moment they
may be wanted.
This we need scarcely say is the practice of experienced
artists, and any attempt at such a method would lead a
beginner into errors which might sometimes be difficult to
The series of tints presented in the following tables
are, for the chief part, employed by the most eminent
men of the profession. They are the results of the prac-
tice and experience of the terms of entire lives devoted to
painting; and they are here proposed to the beginner as
a means of saving him much anxious research, as a result
indeed at which he himself could never hope, unaided and
working in the dark, to arrive.
It is very rare to find two painters working with pre-
cisely the same colours and tints; preference and feeling
have much to do with the selection. If an artist be asked
if he employ some certain colour which he is not in the
habit of using, although it is perhaps commouly used iu
flesh tints, he will perhaps answer, that he does not, or
cannot, use it.
The following colours and tints being arranged and
composed upon the palette, with the assurance that they
will meet the utmost delicacy of the carnation hues, is
a great step towards a successful imitation of life-like
colour; but it must not be supposed that it only remains
to apply them to the canvas. It will be found that there
is yet to he leamt much that no rules can supply — that
nothing but application can teach.
It is yet necessary to learn how far these colours and
tints are available in imitating the human complexion, and
THE PALETTE FOR THE FIRST PAINTING. 11
the various surfaces and textures which occur in compo-
sition. With a few colours, a masterly hand will realize
the most charming examples of art; but in order to
qualify the hand and eye, a course of assiduous practice is
indispensable. The degrees of the tints, their relations
with each other, and their adaptability to the imitation
of transparent shades and delicate hues, must be closely
If the complexion about to be painted be one of con-
siderable delicacy, as that of a lady, or a child, the pre-
ference will be given to the most tender tints, breaking
them with the pearly greys, and laying the shades with
a ground for a transparent glaze.
If the complexion of the study be of a stronger cha-
racter, tints of a more decided tone — such as will approach
the life — may be employed..
THE PALETTE FOR THE FIRST PAINTING.
It will be understood that the variety of tints compre-
hended in the following arrangements, is given with the
intention of meeting every possible diversity of shade and
tint. It will, therefore, not be necessary to place upon the
palette^ at one time, more than a selection of colours and
tints, according to the complexion.
These tints may be mixed upon a glass, or marble
slab, and placed upon the palette with the palette-knife,
in such order as may bring the brightest to the extreme
right, and so graduating them round to the left until
the shade tints are placed^ and to these may succeed pure
COLOURS AND TINTS FOR THE FIRST PAINTING.
White and Naples Yellow.
White, Naples Yellow, and Vermillion.
Wbite and Light Red.
White, Vermillioij, and Ugbt Bed.
White, Black, and Vermillion, miied to Reddiah or Violet Gre;i.
White, Black, Ipdiaii Red, and Raw Umber.
White and Terre Verte.
While, Terre Verte, Black, and Indiu Bed.
The hair, if light, may be freely painted in with White,
Yellow Ochre, and Vandyke Brown ; and the same colonre,
with the addition of Raw Umber, will serve to sketch in
dark hair ; the darker colours, of course, prevailing.
With respect to vehicle, there are many and various
preferences; some artists employ drying oil and turpen-
tine; others add to this, mastick varnish, but certainly that
THE FIRST PAINTING. 13
whicli has been more used than any other is megilp ; and
perhaps this medium is more manageable by a beginner
than any other. It is composed of nearly equal parts of
drying oil and mastick varnish^ slightly stirred^ and
allowed to stand until it has acquired a consistence suf-
ficient to be removed to the palette with the palette-
THE FIRST PAINTING.
There is necessarily a difference of treatment to be
observed between the manner of conducting the masculine
portrait^ and that of bringing forward the portrait of a
lady. The tints employed for the former are warmer
and stronger than those used for the latter; and the
manner of commencing the heads of children is yet more
It may be observed^ that inasmuch as the painter rarely
meets with two complexions exactly alike^ he will here-
after be guided by his judgment and experience in the
selection of tints. The precepts which we give him here
are well suited for general purposes.
The first painting of the features may be very satis-
factorily effected by using the shade tint^ composed of
Indian Bed^ Raw Umber and Black; the lights being
laid in with two or three tints of White and Light Bed^
mixed to different degrees of depth.
At this stage of the work, lay in all the shaded parts of
the face, employing the graduated hght tints to work into
the deeper tones, but using the colour as sparingly as
The principal masses of shade must be laid with breadth,
that is, without a too close observation and definition of
detail ; and the brush employed for the purpose must be
soft and thick. The uniformity of the shade tint may
be modified and broken by a little of some warmer tint ixL
14 THE FIRST PAINTING.
the markings of certain features^ as the nostrils^ the line of
the mouth between the lips, the eyelids, and other parts.
As the tints employed at this stage of the work are few,
the lights and gradations in nature will suggest their
places ; but with respect to these tints, the lightest should
fall short of the highest lights of the natural complexion ;
these being held in reserve for finishing. The mask having
been thus worked over, the whole must be freely united
with a soft brush, to exclude all hardness from the outline,
and insipidity from the shadows. The result of this union
will be the production of intermediate gradations, which
will give to the work the most perfect harmony of parts,
by eifacing the marks of the brush and producing greater
transparency in the tints.
If any corrections are necessary, for this purpose the
middle tint, composed of White, Black, Indian Red, and
Terre Verte will be found of great utility, as it blends
charmingly with either the shade or the light, leaving the
work in the most advantageous state to support the subse
The portrait being thus far brought forward, other
brushes and additional colours will be necessary. In order
to continue the work, six or eight clean brushes of various
sizes may be used.
Proceed now to approach the complexion with some of
the more luminous tints, those in which the yellows and
reds prevail; and work with a good body of colour on
the highest lights. The tints to be used here will still
fall short of the highest lights which are not yet to
It is a general practice to work from the shaded masses
up to the lights, but the result is the same by commencing
with the lights; a method perhaps more readily intelligible
to the student in explanation. This impasto, therefore,
of the lights having been eifected, he will follow these by
succeeding gradations down to the shadows; and will
THE FIRST PAINTING. 15
finally touch upon the reflexes, going over the entire face,
so as to cover with tints approaching the life all the pre-
vious thin painting. The additional tints necessary for
this part of the work may be composed of White,
Light Red, and Vermillion in various degrees; and for
the more mellow lights. White, Light Red, and Naples
Yellow ; and in working from these to the extreme out-
lines, the gradations must be preserved with the utmost
care, in order to secure the roundness of the head.
The tints must be transferred to their places with as
little disturbance as possible ; that is, they must not be
saddened and over-wrought by the brush, the result of
such treatment being a flat, waxy surface, altogether unlike
the life. But if the tint be carefully laid, and judiciously
harmonized with the tones by which it is met, it will be
left spirited and transparent, and will appear as if it
would yield to the pressure of the finger.
The process of glazing is that by which the shadows
are finished in subsequent paintings ; the result of glazing
is a transparency, which has to the eye the appearance of
a shaded and retiring depth.
Glazing is efiected by working over shaded portions of
the picture with transparent colours, either singly or in
combination ; transparent colours are also used to pass over
the lights of a picture, in order to tone and harmonize them.
The management of the shaded passages of a head, in
the first painting, has always reference to the subsequent
glazings; thus, the shadows in the dead colouring must
always be studied with a view to support the finish. They
must be somewhat lighter than it is proposed, ultimately,
to leave them, thus allowing for the glazing by which they
acquire the necessary depth. The dead colouring of all
passages that are to be glazed should be laid with a clean
solid body, because the glazing is, in such case, more per-
manent, as depending for beauty and real effect entirely
upon the preparatory ground.
16 THE HAIR.
All the lights of the study, if not laid upon a light
ground^ will change in some degree from the life ; because
every colour in drying will sink, and in proportion to
its body partake of the ground upon which it is laid;
therefore, the greater the quantity of colour, and the
more substantisdly it is used^ the less liable wUl it be to
Thus it will be understood that the first painting must
be left bright in tone, and free in touch. If stippled or
elaborated with small brushes, the work will be deprived
of whatever spirit may have been communicated to it;
and if the lights be much worked after being laid, they
will lose the lifelike freshness which would otherwise dis-
Should any imperfection be remarked after the work
has been thus far advanced, it will be better to omit the
emendation until it be dry; as then it can be effected with
greater spirit and facility ; and even in case of failure the
application of a clean rag will restore the ground.
As the great object of the foregoing instructions is the
modelling of the features into form and character, this wiU
best be effected by a sparing use of vehicle and a free use
of colour; and as the dead colouring is the foundation
of all that is to follow, it is highly important that it
should be laid in strict relation with succeeding tones and
There is little difficulty in laying the dead colouring of
the hair. If the colour be fair — a light brown, for instance,
— the lights will be warm, and it were well to lay them with
a tint, heightened by Naples Yellow, brought up to the
highest lights by a little White. The shades and hues of
light hair are of great diversity: we find them sometimes
flaxen and rather cold than warm, especially in the lights ;
RECAPITULATION OF FIRST PAINTING. 17
but when the hair is darker^ and of a light auburn or
chesnut colour^ it will be necessary to paint the hghts
with a strong tint of Yellow.
In painting blacky or very dark brown hair^ almost and
of the deep warm colours may be used with black ; the
reflections of hair of this colour are cold, and they
graduate in a ratio inverse to the depth of tone in the
shades, until from the most intensely black hair we find
cast the most brilliant and coldest reflexion, the eflect
being enhanced by the blackness of the hair.
In the first painting of the hair, little more can be done
than to rub in the forms and markings as nearly as pos-
sible to the dispositions intended to be maintained.
PRACTICAL RECAPITULATION OF THE FIRST PAINTING.
As the rounding and definition of the features is always
a difficulty to beginners, we practically repeat the process
of painting the mask. It is, perhaps, an easier course of
practice to work from the shadows up to the lights, than
in the contrary direction, because if the shade tints should
be worked into the lights, the error is more easily rectified
than if the lights were carried into the shadows. We
shall, however, pursue the method with which we com-
menced, in order to spare the student any embarrassment
arising from a change of practice.
Proceed therefore to lay the highest lights of the cheek,
cautiously limiting them to their place ; then take a por-
tion of the next tint, modified and broken, if necessary,
with the higher, and approaching as nearly as possible the
natural tone, and lay it in conjunction with the other.
In descending the cheek, the colour will become more
florid, the next tint must therefore be freshened with a
proportion (according to the depth or quality of the
colour) of Madder Lake, Vermillion, or Light Red;
and in descending upon the strength of the colour, the
18 PRACTICAL RECAPITULATION
same hues will prevail in greater force ; and as they have
been gradually heightened, so must they be reduced by a
similar scale of tints until the general flesh tint be
resumed, or until the shades of the fresher colour be lost
in the varieties of green, grey, brown, yellow, or reddish
local colours, which may exist in the lower parts of the
There is not in the forehead a similar variety of colour —
there the shades and retiring tints are generally of a more
pearly and transparent cast, and a charming scale of tones
will be observed towards the shaded side of the head, to
the imitation of which every care must be given.
On the shaded side of the head, those parts which come
forward to the light will of course be treated in the same
manner as the corresponding parts on the light side, and
will approach the shadows with the same scale of tints
as those described on that side. Thus, the breadths of
light and shade and gradations being painted, they are
followed by spirited touches, both in the lights and darks,
and a revision and confirmation of the drawing and
The breadths having been painted up, the attention will
at once be called to those parts requiring further elabora-
tion : these will be found to be the eyes, the nostril, and
wing of the nose ; the division of the lips and the corners of
the mouth, all of which must be reconsidered and touched
upon, improving as far as possible the resemblance.
The lips and nostrils will be left of a sanguine tone,
somewhat short of the force of nature, in order to allow
for the finishing; and it should be remembered that if
these points fall even considerably short of the reality in
force, the default is on the right side, and in a multitude
of instances is advantageous.
The eye will be found somewhat difficult to treat suc-
cessfully. It will be observed, that inasmuch as the
eyeball is shaded by the eyelash and lid, it is many
OF THE FIRST PAINTING. 1 9
degrees removed from white ; and that although the pupil
may be very dark^ it is by its form, and the play of
reflected light which it admits^ many degrees removed
from black. With respect also to the point of reflection
gathered generally near the pupil, it is the error of inex-
perience to paint this at once too large and too white ; the
place of this point of reflection varies according to the
disposition and direction of the light; if the light be
below the face, the reflection will be low on the orb ; but
the contrary if the light be high. It will be more or less
intense according to the exposure of the eye; therefore,
this white speck, which in painting imparts great vivacity
to the eye, should be carefully considered in every case.
In what way soever we may view the human face, at the
moderate distance at which it may be conveniently seen
as a whole — ^it contains no severe or cutting lines. A ten-
dency, however, to hardness in portraiture is one of the
first errors into which students fall, from a too earnest
desire for minute imitation. This remark applies particu-
larly to the drawing of the eye, and all the lines and
markings which must, to a certain degree, be made pro-
minent by decision of touch ; and as they are intended to
contrast with the unbroken breadths of light and shade,
these touches lose this necessary efiect if softened down
into spiritless lines. They must harmonize with sur-
rounding parts by a corresponding precision of tone ; and
in case of any undue hardness, it were better to leave the
work until it be dry, than to disturb the surrounding dis-
positions by an attempt at remedying the default, which
will almost certainly fail. As each failure operates as a
useful lesson upon the observant artist, it is most probable
that a second essay, when the portrait is dry, will be suc-
cessful. With this process, by means of which force is
given to the picture, the flesh painting is ended, but there
are yet other essentials for immediate consideration.
20 PREPARATION FOR SECOND PAINTING.
THE PREPARATION OF THE WORK FOR THE
If the first painting have been executed with any degree
of freedom, and so left to dry, without having been
slightly touched here and there with a soft brush to
remove any superficial inequalities which might efiect the
second painting, it will be necessary to examine the pic-
ture with a sharp knife, or scraper; but this operation
cannot be performed until the work be perfectly dry.
This may be determined by breathing on the surface,
which, if dry, will immediately assume a dull and misty
appearance ; but if still wet, it will remain unsullied.
The surface having been reduced, if necessary, a
wetted sponge should be lightly passed over it; this
will be dry in a few minutes, when a small quantity of
poppy oil should be lightly brushed over the work, from
which the superfluous moisture may be removed by the
gentle application of an old silk handkerchief.
The object of thus moistening the surface with poppy
oil is to make the subsequent painting unite with the first,
and so embody the first, second, and following paintings,
that no discordant difierence of execution may appear in
Having passed the silk handkerchief over the surface,
it will be necessary to observe that no dust or any of the
thin threads of the silk adhere to the work. In finishing
portraits, experienced painters omit oiling for the sake
of obtaining texture ; but the application of the sponge
can never be omitted, because, without it, the glazes will
All oil-colours sink to a certain extent, and in the pro-
gress of a picture, sometimes so much so, as to render
oiling necessary in order to see the real strength and
details of the work ; this is termed " oiling out.''
PALETTE FOR SECOND AND THIRD PAINTINGS. 2 1
THE PALETTE FOR THE SECOND AND THIRD PAINTINGS.
The colours and tints for the second and third paint-
ings will be arranged as directed for the first painting.
Raw Umher. •
For the highest reflections^ such as in certain subjects
may occur in the forehead.
which having been laid as a preparatory ground is
scumbled over with White and Naples Yellow.
White and Naples Yellow.
White, Naples Yellow, and Rose Madder.
The following tints may be atreii^\v"CTLefti, ot x^^»5ifc^^
22 THE PALETTE FOR THE SECOND
in order to imitate the complexion, according to the
proportion of White, Red, or Yellow, of which they may
be composed :
White, Raw Sienna^ and Rose Madder.
White, Raw Sienna, and Indian Red.
White, Naples Yellow, and Indian Red.
White, Naples Yellow, and Rose Madder, qualified with a little
White, Orange Mars, and Rose Madder.
The following set is less transparent than the preceding,
and therefore not so generally eligible :
Wliite and Naples Yellow.
"White, Naples Yellow, and Vermillion.
"White, Yellow Ochre, and Vermillion.
"White and Light Red.
"White and Venetian Red.
"White, Raw Sienna, and Vermillion.
"White and Rose Maddei*.
"White, Rose Madder, and a little Indian Red.
White, Rose Madder, and a little Light Red.
"White, Rose Madder, and a little Raw Sienna.
CARNATIONS OF A LOWER TONE.
"White and Indian Red.
"White and Purple Madder.
"White and Indian Lake.
FLESH TINTS IN HALF TONE.
"White and Brown Madder.
"White, Brown Madder, and Burnt Sienna.
White and Terre Verte.
"White, Naples Yellow, and Ultramarine.
"White, Yellow Ochre, and Ultramarine.
Wbitef Raw Sienna, and Ultnimaxixtfi^
AND THIRD PAINTINGS. 23
White, Terre Verte, and Indian Red.
White, Naples Yellow, Indian Red, and Ultramarine.
White, Raw Umber, and Ultramarine.
White, Raw Umber, Indian Red, and Ultramarine.
WARM GRETS IN HALF LIGHT.
White, Light Red, and Emerald Green.
(This mixture — a soft warm grey — is capable of giving most beautiful
tones, varying from cold to warm, according to the proportion of
Green or Red.)
White, Ultramarine, and Indian Red.
White, Ultramarine, Indian Red, and Raw Umber.
(This tint is most valuable ; it is capable of any depth of tone.)
White, Black, and Light Red.
White, Brown Madder, and Black.
White, Light Red, and Ultramarine.
White, Rose Madder, and Ultramarine.
White, Indian Lake, and Ultramarine.
White, Purple Madder, and Ultramarine.
White, Indian Red, and Ultramarine.
Raw Umber and Light Red.
Indian Red, Raw Umber, and Black.
Vermillion and Black.
Raw Sienna and Indian Lake.
Raw Sienna and Brown Madder.
Lake and Burnt Sienna.
Light Red, Indian Lake, and Vandyke Brown.
24 DELICATE COMPLEXIONS.
HAIR TINTS — LIGHT.
White, Naples Yellow, and Raw Umber.
White, Yellow Ochre, and Vandyke Brown.
White, Raw Sienna, and Raw Umber.
White, Yellow Ochre, Burnt Sienna, and a little Black.
The same as the above, with less yellow, and mixed with the flesh
Raw Sienna and Vandyke Brown.
Raw Umber and Brown Madder.
Raw Umber and Vandyke Brown.
SHADING FOR BROWN HAIR.
The deep grey to be painted into the shadows, and pure Brown Madder
worked into that; or Vandyke Brown and Brown Madder mixed; or
Brown Madder and French Blue. The great beauty in painting hair is to
let the greys be seen through the local colour.
For those of ladies and children, the following tints
may be used^ the White predominating in each:
White, Naples Yellow, and Rose Madder.
The same, toned with Ultramarine.
White, Raw Sienna, and Rose Madder.
White, Naples Yellow, and Indian Red.
White and Rose Madder.
White, Rose Madder, and Light Red.
Rose Madder and Raw Umber.
Rose Madder and Raw Sienna.
White, Light Red, and Emerald Green.
INCIDENTAL TINTS. 25
Such complexions should not be glazed before the
portrait is re-touched upon ; it will be enough simply to
For complexions of strong, ruddy, and mellow hues, the
following tints will be found useful. In these the Yellows
and Reds will prevail.
White, Raw Sienna, and Rose Madder.
White, Yellow Ochre, and Vermillion.
White and Light Red.
White, Light Red, and Yellow Ochre.
White, Orange Mars, and Rose Madder.
White, Terre Verte, and Indian Red.
Raw Sienna and Rose Madder.
Such complexions may be toned with Raw Sienna and
Rose Madder, before commencing the second painting.
A charming effect is produced by working into this glaze.
From among the following tints may, from time to
time, be selected some which may be found to meet
peculiarities. They are adapted to every kind of com-
REDS, SLIGHTLY VIOLET, SOMETIMES SEEN IN THE LIPS, NOSTRILS,
Purple Lake, and Light Red.
The same, reduced with White.
HALF TINTS, OR PASSAGES IN WHICH THE SKIN IS EXTREMELY
White, Purple Lake, Light Red, and Ultramarine.
BLUISH TINTS, TO COOL PASSAGES THAT HAVE BECOME
Terre Verte and White.
Terre Verte, Rose Madder, and White.
Ultramarine and White.
26 INCIDENTAL TINTS.
HALF TINTS AND RETIRING.
Vermillion, Yellow Ochre, and Blue Black.
The same, with White.
BROKEN BLUISH AND GREENISH HUES OCCURRING ROUND THE
MOUTH AND CHIN.
Ultramarine, Yellow Ochre, Madder Lake, and White.
Madder Lake, Blue Black, Yellow Ochre, and White.
A VARIETY OF STRONG GREYS,
Which, in proportion as they are reduced by White, or
forced with the stronger colours, are fitted for half tints,
retiring passages, and approaching the deeper shades.
Vermillion, Blue Black, and White.
Vermillion, Yellow Ochre, Black, and White.
Light Red, Black, and White
Light Red, Yellow Ochre, and White.
Indian Red, Black, and White.
Indian Red, Black, White, and Madder Lake.
Black, Madder Lake, and Naples Yellow.
FOR STRENGTHENING SHADES.
They receive a warm or a cool tone, according to the pre-
valence of Red and Yellow, or Black.
Indian Red, Brown Ochre, and Black.
The same, with the addition of Naples Yellow.
SHADE AND GLAZING TINTS,
Composed without White, for the sake of obtaining depth
and purity. They are also employed in reflexes, and for
the modification of warm tones.
Black, Brown Ochre, and Purple Lake.
Blue, Black, Brown Ochre, Purple Lake, and Naples Yellow.
Light Red, Naples Yellow, and Black.
For decided touches about the mouth, nostrils and eyes
in a strongly shaded head.
Purple Lake and Burnt Sienna.
Burnt Sienna and Vandyke Brown.
THE SECOND PAINTING. 27
THE SECOND PAINTING.
The dead colouring, or first painting, must be perfectly
dry before we proceed with the second painting. The
time necessary for the drying of the work depends upon
the temperature of the room, the vehicle employed, and
the substance of the impasto. Generally, if the work
dry well, a picture may be advanced to conclusion by
painting on it on successive days.
With a large brush moderately charged with vehicle,
pass lightly over the work, and with the corner of an old
silk handkerchief, or any similarly soft substance, care-
fully remove the superfluous moisture. If the complexion
be delicate, as that of a lady or child, this will be suf-
ficient; but if the complexion be fresh and florid, the
vehicle taken in the brush may be slightly tinted with
Rose Madder and Raw Sienna; but this must be sparingly
used, lest the complexion become foxy. This toning, when
successfully employed, produces a harmony of mellow
huefe not obtainable by other means, because the colours
which qualify the vehicle, blend freely with the subse-
quent tints, and so generalize the colour, without depriving
the cool half tints of their value.
The process of glazing has been alluded to in the first
painting. Wherever depth or certain degrees of shade
are to be represented, this is efiected by the employment
of transparent colour applied to a painting previously
prepared to receive it, and always considerably lighter
than it is intended to be left by the glazing.
The repainting and heightening of the lights is called
scumbling, and both of these processes are especially
essential in the advanced state of the picture.
We commence the second painting by a careful exami-
nation of the work, to enable us to correct the drawing
wherever it may appear faulty. In this examuLa.tia\v^lW.
ntmoat attention must be paid \.o \)aa Ssstcdl «cA ^^sss^K^jet
28 THE SECOND PAINTING.
of the shaded portions, for to adapt an old proverb to the
economy of painting, we may say that if we take care of
the shades, the lights will take care of themselves.
For any necessary correction, a shade tint is employed,
and its strength will be suggested by the kind of emenda-
tion to be effected ; that is, whether it be outline or the
marking of a feature, as of an eye, or the nose.
The drawing having been satisfactorily corrected, it is
advisable to complete the glazings, employing such colours
or combinations as will produce the nearest resemblance
to nature. For this purpose may be variously employed.
Ivory Black, Raw and Burnt Umber, Madder Lake,
Indian Red, Vermillion, Raw Sienna, Terre Verte, and
others, in tints of two or three colours. It is scarcely
necessary to observe, that the drawing and forms of the
first painting must appear through the glaze; to effect
this, it is requisite to work with tints, in proportions of
little colour to much vehicle.
For the lights of the face, degrees of the light red tint
may be used, qualified and supported according to the
character of the complexion by tints of Yellow, Vermil-
lion, Rose Madder, &c. ; and the half lights and middle
tints are graduated to the shadows, with different degrees
of grey tint.
The whole of the tints must be laid as nearly as pos-
sible in the places they are intended permanently to
occupy. The reason of this caution is, that when much
worked with the brush, they become flat, hard, and opaque ;
and entirely lose those properties whereby the painter is
enabled successfully to represent the warmth, freshness,
and vitality of living features. The half tints and grada-
tions which approach the shadows are a highly important
part of the work, because as it is by these that the fea-
tures are rounded, it is these that are most exposed to
elaboration by the brush. The lights must in every way
be kept distinct from the shadows, any admixture de-
atroys at once the truth of both ; the \>T\X!&\ka%, \k«rfat^
THE SECOND PAINTING. 29
with which one is painted cannot be employed for the
A transparent and lifelike character may be given to
the work by painting on the breadths of light (that is
when the complexion is sufficiently florid to admit of this
proceeding) with tints mixed without White, laying them
on as a glaze, and touching into them in the manner of
hatching : such tints are given among those recommended
for the palette.
As a general rule for the treatment of shaded passages,
it is advisable not to lay them in equally deep with those
in Nature ; for when the work is dry they will appear too
strong. The same objection applies to half tints and gra-
dations, when put in to the exact natural tone.
Those parts of the shades which are lighted by reflection
are painted with stronger colour than the shades them-
selves, and, if possible, without any White ; the light and
warm colours are generally found sufficient for this purpose.
We here suppose the whole of the face to be re-painted,
the drawing corrected, and the picture in a fit state to
receive the finishing touches. We suppose that the fore-
head has been painted up to the line where it is met by
the hair, the high lights of the former graduated into the
dark tones of the latter, and also that the outlines of the
face have been softened into the background, or that part
of the composition whereby it is relieved.
We presume, in short, that the whole has been drawn
and painted so far with the utmost care; but there are yet
many difficulties which will beset the path of a beginner,
and many various questions may be asked, which no
amount of foresight may anticipate. To the oldest, as
well as the youngest painter, the character and expression
of the features are still the great question: we revert,
therefore, to a reconsideration of the features individually,
as a second part of the second painting; in the hope of
meeting probable difficulties which ma^ Y^^'5fc\^ *^^xsv.-
selves in the features.
30 THE EYE.
As the eye is the dominant feature, and its expression
precedes even the language of the lips in challenging the
attention of the beholder, we address first our considera-
tion to the treatment of this organ.
The formal differences assumed by the eye at various
periods of life are patent to every common observation.
We desire to point attention to these changes, and in-
struct the student where to look for them, rather than to
dwell upon them in discerption.
The eye indicates the progress from childhood to youth
in the inner angle 5 but as life advances, the change is
observable in the outer comer. And we may allude to the
marked difference of character between the eye of maji
and that of woman : all that is epic and philosophical is
becoming to the former; but the latter is formed, with its
softness and brilliancy, only for the expression of tender
sentiment^ The expression of emotion in the eye of either
sex is extremely difScult to catch, and the more intense
tone of the male subject is at times especially so; yet
sometimes, when it is supposed to be least practicable, it
may be realized with but a few touches.
The eye of the feminine subject is generally painted in
a full light, which demonstrates every characteristic deli-
cacy of construction and colour. When it is seen in such
a light as to demonstrate the detail of its structure, the
desire to imitate all its perceptible niceties of form is
extremely embarrassing to a student ; but even were he to
succeed in detailing these, he would find that such a result
would not only enfeeble his manner, but would be useless
We cannot deal with light and shade by simple allusion;
but where the description of minute formation is not
necessary to resemblance, it is sufficient that it be only
THE EYE. 31
indicated. We cannot treat ligbt and shade in this way,
they demand scrupulous truth and justice.
When every minute portion of the structure of the eye
is visible, every line must have its place in the painting,
and every part must be signified, but without any degree
of severity in the one, or spottiness in the other, unless
there be some marked characteristic which cannot be
omitted without injury to the resemblance.
The result of such treatment successfully carried out is
Again, if the light fall on the head at an angle of, say
sixty degrees or upwards, the eyes may be thrown into
strong shade, whereby the minute detail of the organ is
lost ; but the resemblance may, nevertheless, be equally
well rendered. A light so high as this, is not favourable
for painting the heads of aged persons, because it sig-
nalizes too strongly the indications of age on the forehead
and wheresoever its traces may most prominently exist.
In the preceding instance, breadth is preserved by guard-
ing against dark spots in the lights, here it is maintained
by suppressing a tendency to light spots in the middle or
Every part of the eye must be balanced and adjusted
with the most unquestionable accuracy, in order to convey
the necessary impression of vitality and intelligence. The
light reflected in the eye must necessarily be many tones
higher than any other part, and it will yet be in perfect
harmony with all around it, if its tone and place be
observed. The effect is further assisted by the arrange-
ment and opposition of the hair, the darker colour and
shadows of which are of incalculable service in clearing
up and forcing the lights of the face.
In dark complexions, the eyebrows must not be painted
as a hard and solid mass, cutting the brow with a
sharp line. It would be well, in the majority of cases,
to paint them lightly over a prepared ^rouiid ^1 ^^^
32 THE EYE.
colour of the general complexioii^ in a manner to show
the greater or less quantity of the hair; which can be
readily effected by such means.
All that has been said in the way of caution against
severity of line in drawing and painting the eyes, is appli-
cable also to the eyebrows. Almost any combination^
producing degrees of dark brown, may be used, as the '
Umbers with Black and Red, or Black, Red, and Yellow.
The eyebrow is frequently a strong feature, especially
after the middle age, and then more so in men than in
women. The drawing, therefore, must.be extremely care-
ful, and the characteristics brought forward. In aged
persons this feature assumes various appearances. The
hair may fail, or, on the contrary, it may become bushy,
or here and there tufted. In any case, wherever promi-
nence occurs, it must be represented by a spirited touch ;
for any attempt at individualizing the hairs will end in
certain failure. The darker parts may be glazed, but if
the eyebroW*has been at all successfully treated, no re-
touching or hatching will be necessary.
We know that the eyelashes consist of hairs which
fringe the lid, but 10 attempt must be made to describe
them as formed of hair. At the distance at which a
painter places a sitter from his easel, the upper eyelash
presents the appearance of a well-defined line, varying in
form according to the position of the head, and always less
strongly marked at the inner comer, near the nose. The
lashes of the lower lid are very slightly marked, except
in cases where the lashes are unusually large. The upper
lash is a striking feature, upon which much of the charac-
ter of the eye depends ; but the lower lash does not, in
any great degree, contribute to the marking of the eye.
It is a common error with beginners to mark the eye-
lash too strongly; this must be particularly guarded
against. The upper edge of the lash is softened into the
Jjd^ and the lower edge melts imperceptibly into the
THE MOUTH. 33
shadow which it casts upon the orb beneath it. Under
the outward extremity of the lash the thickness of the
lid is perceptible ; and this must be represented as it is
seen, that is, distinct from the lash, and extremely delicate
We see continually, in the essays of beginners, the
visible parts of the orb which surround the pupil laid in
with almost pure white. A light grey tint is employed
here, with the understanding that it is easier to raise than
to lower the tone of this part of the eye when it is once
painted. The form assumed by the pupil depends upon
the relative position of the head; in the full face it is
round, but in profile it is oval. The internal angle of the
eye requires great nicety of drawing and delicacy of colour;
the extremity is of a bright carnation, heightened by the
brilliant effect of the slight humidity which is always
Immediately beneath the eyes, the skin being very thin
and transparent, the prevailing tints are of the tenderest
shades of grey and violet. In old age, this part assumes
a greenish hue; but the characteristic, at all periods of life,
is that of an extremely delicate transp^ency.
The form of the mouth is different at every period of
life. In infancy it is round and contracted, with much
beauty of form, and most perfectly constructed for the
purpose of extracting nourishment.
The mouth in infancy assists but little in expression ;
young children laugh and smile almost entirely with their
eyes. As the teeth are produced, the mouth is called upon
to fulfil another office. It loses the form which was before
necessary to extract sustenance, and with the growth of
the teeth becomes elongated and capable of coincidence
of expression with the eyes. In old age, an equally remark-
34 THE EAJt.
able change takes place ; it falls into the vacuum formed
by the loss of the teeth, and its former ready and varying
expression is lost.
In colouring the mouths of children and youth, the
clear coral hue which distinguishes health is the great
point of imitation; the markings of the mouth, particu-
larly at the corners and the centre of the bow which
divides the lips, require the nicest attention. Between
the male dind female mouth there is no generic difference ;
an expression of firmness declared in the marking under
the lower lip is peculiar to the former.
This organ is gifted with a most comprehensive power
of expression, and it is scarcely necessary to allude to the
necessity of harmonizing the sentiment of the mouth
with that of the eyes. The drawing and painting of the
outer corners of the mouth will require the most careful
It has been customary, according to conventional form,
to leave the nostril as finished by a single touch of the
brush ; this, however, ought not to be considered suf-
ficient : if the nostril be not carefully made out, the wing
of the nose is imperfectly described; and this, especially
in aged persons, is sometimes a prominent feature.
The ear is too frequently treated with indifference. We
find it, however, the subject of accurate study in all the
works of our most eminent painters. In order to palliate
neglect or indifference in painting the ear, it is urged
that it is not an intellectual feature — does not contribute
to resemblance, and that all ears are alike. It is true that
it has no expression, but it does very frequently contri-
bute to resemblance, and all ears are certainly not alike ;
therefore, when this feature is presented in full light, it
must be drawn and painted with the utmost precision.
THE HAIR. 35
We see works in which the ear is dismissed with a very
few touches ; in others, the softness of the lobe is fully
described, and the cartilaginous surfaces of the upper part
are finely felt.
By judicious disposition, the forms of the ear, either in
being brought forward, or by being made to retire, con-
tribute much to the perspective, in front, or three-quarter
views, and to breadth in profile.
In infancy, the form of the ear is comparatively round,
but it gradually elongates as age advances.
The colour of the hair, its arrangement, and the forms
which it may naturally assume, are not less significant
passages of resemblance than any of the features of the
face. The light and shade of the hair must be studied
with reference to the effect of the lights of the face,
which it is employed to clear up and heighten. All
divisions must be carefully painted, and the junction of
the hair with the skin must be shown here and there in
order to avoid the appearance of a wig, which might be
communicated were this not to be observed.
Those parts of the hair which require careful manipu-
lation, and nicety of gradation, are those where its roots
are seen breaking the tints of the forehead and temple.
The colours of the hair, and the tints of the brow, must be
broken together by imperceptible gradations ; a result
which will not be successfully attained by hatching with
a small pencil, an error into which beginners generally
fall when any finesse of execution is necessary.
The partings that occur in the hair of women must be
painted with similar delicacy of treatment, and with due
observance of the light on one side, and the shade on the
other, according to the distribution in side or oblique
lights. The breadths of the hair may be ^amt^<L^^^^
36 THE NECK, SHOULDERS, &C.
flat brushes of various sizes, the lights being laid with a
spirited touch, and as near to the degree of Nature as
Colours used in painting the hair are, White, Yellow,
Black, Raw and Burnt Umber, Bone Brown, Burnt
Sienna, Brown Madder, &c., in tints and combinations of
two and three, — as, Black and Umber, Black and Burnt
Sienna, Black and Brown Madder, White, Black and
Umber, &c. Other colours are used, but the result is the
THE NECK, SHOULDERS, &c.
In the portraits of ladies, the general tone of the neck
and shoulders will be of a lower key than that of the face,
of which the highest light is the forehead.
It is, however, sometimes found in very fair persons,
that the tones of the neck are as high as those of the
face, in which case those of the neck and shoulders must
be lowered with very pale grey tints; and such is the
extreme delicacy of this complexion, that it will be very
difficult to realize it, until after some experience.
In colouring this part of the picture, it will be observed,
that in many subjects the tints of the upper part of the
shoulder are of a somewhat warm tone in comparison
with that of which we have spoken. This at times may
appear exaggerated; but in representing the hue upon
canvas, care must be taken to avoid everything like dis-
cordance of colour : it were better to keep this, or any
other similar passage, rather below the warmth of Nature,
than work up to the reality, where the result would pro-
duce an obvious discord.
In persons of a spare habit, the muscles of the neck,
with even the points of insertion, are too obviously demon-
strated in certain poses ; and, in such subjects, the clavicle
is also conspicuously defined. We need scarcely say that
THE ARMS AND HANDS. 37
faithful representations, in such cases, are sometimes pain-
ful, and never agreeable. The painter, therefore, by license
of his art, softens, modifies, and partially conceals effects,
which, if delineated with fidelity, would not only impair
the resemblance, but injure the study as a work of art.
In a front view, the colour around and below the throat
will at once suggest the use of the finest greys and purest
pale carnations which the palette can supply. The pre-
vailing tints here are White and Yellow, White, Yellow and
Light Red, or Vermillion, White, Yellow and Madder,
blended and broken with delicate greys; and if at any
time any part should dry too warm, this may be rectified,
by very carefully, and with a small brush, going over the
part with some cooler tint, such as White and Terre Verte,
or White, Terre Verte and Lake mixed to a very pale
The throat and the parts immediately adjacent must be
painted with a full and free brush ; but sedulously careful
of preserving, slightly, the markings of the throat and
the indication of the great muscles which appear in cer-
tain positions of the head; and here, as elsewhere, any
angular tendency, or sharpness of line, may be cancelled .
without injury to the likeness.
THE ARMS AND HANDS.
The arms and hands in the portraits of ladies are painted
with a few only of the tints of the palette, which is employed
in colouring the features. For this part of the work, it is
scarcely necessary to say that the general colour of the
complexion will be the base of that of the arms and hands.
We make this observation (which might seem unnecessary),
because, in colour, not less than in drawing, there are
expression and degrees of refinement. The hand is one
of the most difficult exercises of the skill of the painter :
there is a sketchy and slovenly manner of disposing of
the hands; but we never find aaytkm^ \svi^ Nic^^ -ojl^'^
38 THE ARMS AND HANDS.
elaborate accuracy in the treatment of this part of their
works in the compositions of those masters of the art of
portrait-painting that might be instanced as worthy of
It is frequently considered unnecessary to carry the
hands and arms beyond the simplest individuality; but
here, more than in the features themselves, there is oppor-
tunity of qualifying the work with somewhat of the forms
of abstract beauty. Hands and arms introduced into a
portrait should only be seen when looked for; if they force
themselves on the eye they are out of place in the com-
position — they occupy some position in the picture in
which they have been placed only for the sake of being
painted. The hand, when skilfully disposed, is a power-
ful auxiliary in expression, but then the action must be
easy and probable, otherwise affectation or awkwardness
must be the result.
There are signally vulgar mannerisms, as well in
painting hands as other parts of a portrait. We some-
times see the hand reduced below even the minimum of
proportion; again, we may see fingers tapered down to
a painful degree of tenuity.
The beauties of proportion, and the graceful play of
line, especially in the hands of ladies, constitute an essen-
tial subject of study. No painter since his time has ever
painted hands Uke Vandyke; and none that have suc-
ceeded him have ever painted hands with that distinctive
class-refinement that Lawrence has shown. The produc-
tions of both in this way are eminently beautiful, though
very different ; those of the former are a conquest in the
study of Nature — those of the latter a triumph in the study
of Art. •
There is a considerable difference between the carriage
of the right and left hands ; the left, for instance, bends
at the wrist in a manner much more graceful than the
right ; but nevertheless, when opportunity occurs, it must
ADDITIONAL OBSERVATIONS. 39
not be forgotten, that to the right hand may be con-
ceded, in painting, this grace which it does not possess in
Each finger has a distinct character, and the fingers of
the right hand are generally larger than those of the left;
but this is not a subject of consideration in a portrait.
A knowledge of the peculiar form of each, and of the
curvature of the lines in a good model, will teach the
student to avoid all straight lines and sharp angles in the
dispositions and drawing of hands.
On a three-quarter sized canvas, if a hand be intro-
duced, the best place for it, indeed almost the only one,
seems to be under the face, so as to repeat the light and
It is generally the desire of students in colouring the
cheeks to lay the reds on as smoothly as possible ; this,
however, is not a natural aspect, and when the colours are
elaborated, they lose that ruddy transparency and lifelike
variety which characterises the reality. In certain parts
of the mask, the red tints entirely disappear, and the
more particularly where the skin is almost immediately
supported by the bone, as on the forehead and the upper
part of the cheeks. These high lights being warm are
painted with a bright tint of Yellow and White.
Cold half tints of Blue and White, Black, White and
Vermillion, Green and White, and other similar combina-
tions are indispensable, as modifying and retiring colours ;
but they must be used with caution.
Sometimes the complexion is admirably realized by the
addition of Black or White, when it is not very high in
tone, nor very brilliant in colour.
Any tint may be saddened by the addition of Black or
White, and these pigments, when judiciously used as
40 ADDITIONAL OBSERVATIONS.
auxiliaries and correctives, communicate a perfectly natural
skin surface with a variety of nuance , which could not be
otherwise obtained; but Black and White, when used
without that judgment which observation and experience
impart, are fatal to the best qualities of any tints with
which they may be mixed.
In glazing the shaded passages of the head, these parts
must not be allowed to fall into cold and opaque tones^
the glaze \nust generally incline to warmth; yet, from what
has been said in the foregoing precepts, it is sufficiently
understood, that in painting a pale and somewhat cold
complexion, very warm shadows would be an incongruity.
When the features assume that expression which it is
the purpose of all painters to give to their works — we
mean that apparent consciousness of the presence of the
spectator, which at once puts the latter upon easy terms
with that which for the time he treats as a respondent
intelligence — the forms are very diflferent from those
which we find when the face is in a state of perfect repose.
This conversational expression is extremely difficult to
catch; and frequently, with all their experience and know-
ledge, the best painters fail in realizing it. In this case, the
mouth is somewhat elongated, and the comers are raised ;
the wings of the nose expand in some degree with the
cheeks, and a slight shade occurs under the eye.
When the outline of the lighter side of the mask is
immediately relieved by a dark background, the cheek must
not have the appearance of cutting the background by a
severe line of light, but it must be softened, and, as it
were, melted into the background. Indeed, in all cases of
opposition, any approach to hard and dry execution must
be guarded against.
Let it be understood that there is a definite point, up
to which natural representation in oil-painting can be
successfully carried; beyond this, all attempts at minute
finish are vain, as serving only to enfeeble whatever good
THE THIRD AND FINISHING PAINTING. 41
quality of execution the work may possess. If, indeed a
resemblance were painted with the painful fidelity of the
manner of Denner, it would be by no means so agreeable
as a study firmly and freely executed. A microscopic study
of the human mask is at best an unpleasing curiosity, it
is never grateful to a sitter, and never acceptable to true
taste in art ; thus, the benefit of his most advantageous
appearance is given to the sitter, and the best rule of
practice generally observed, is to determine to represent
that which is seen, in preference to setting forth a know-
ledge of that which must exist.
When a portrait has been brought forward according to
the foregoing precepts, every part having been re-painted
in a manner to leave the shadows transparent, and the
lights bright and effective, no attempt must yet be made
to give any of those final touches whence it should
derive its highest degree of spirit; if it be in a fairly
satisfactory state, it must be allowed to dry before it be
again worked upon.
THE THIRD AND FINISHING PAINTING.
We here suppose that the work is yet short of the
brilliancy and force which it should receive from the
process of finishing. If any marks of the brush appear
that may in anywise blemish the surface, they may be
removed, as already recommended, by a knife.
It is not usual to oil out on the finishing painting, as
we consider that the picture requires only to be partially
touched upon ; but the colours will work more kindly if
the sponge, moistened with water, be passed over the
If the natural complexion afford strong and florid hues,
such as are seen in the masculine subject, the mask may
be glazed with the tint compounded of Rose Madder,
Raw Sienna, and White. But if the sitter be a ladY^ oi:
42 THE THIRD AND FINISHING PAINTING.
child, this glaze must be omitted ; indeed, even in painting
the head of a man, unless in skilful hands, this glaze fre-
quently leaves, here and there, hot and foxy passages.
It mu^t never be forgotten that the great beauty of
finishing is transparency, in order to obtain which, the
finishing colours must be, as it were, held in suspension
over the second painting ; with this view, therefore, some-
what more of vehicle must be used than has hitherto
been necessary. To all the higher lights the brush should
be applied well charged with colour, but as we graduate
from these, the retiring tones must be laid on still with a
view to transparency, which may be obtained here, not so
much by the addition of vehicle, as by driving the colour
It will be advantageous to proceed with a quick and
decided touch, which leaves the colour pure, and preserves
the preceding tints unmixed, although wet ; and in working
upon the different parts of the picture, it will be well to
employ a sable pencil for those details in which great
nicety is required, as in the eyes and mouth.
In painting the carnations, the colour should be used as
free from mixture with White as possible ; should grada-
tion be required, it will be preferable to work into the
colour some lighter tint, whereby gradation and variety
may be obtained.
The lines of all the features should be softened into the
gradation by which the features are relieved, by the action
of the brush sweeping beyond their respective limits, so
that the relieving gradation or shade be seen through the
colour carried over the line. The transitions from light
to shade should be softened, so as to preserve the separa-
tion of each tone.
If high finish be desired it will be necessary for such
purpose to retouch the mask several times, letting the
work dry between each operation. The result of this
elaboration will be great purity and brilliancy.
What is meant here by finish^ is not mere smoothness^
which is generally attended by hardness.
We now suppose that the head has been sufficiently
elaborated ; that is to say^ all has been done to work out a
satisfactory portrait. Sometimes artists require many
sittings for the completion of a portrait^ others ask only a
few; but whether the sittings be few or many, the manner
of conducting the work is much the same. We have
proposed^ both for the second and the third painting,
processes which, according to the nature of the model,
or the proficiency of the painter, may require one or many
At the commencement of the third painting, the student
is presumed to have found his study all but perfect in
resemblance, as to the modelling of the features. The
complexion was to be brought forward to the strength of
Nature, the lights to be heightened, and the shades
deepened ; all of which it is supposed has been done.
The term reflex signifies a subdued light reflected into
a shade by some proximate object; hence, a reflex can
only appear in shaded or low-toned passages, the depth
of shade being superseded by the reflexion.
The colour of passages lighted by reflexes depends
entirely upon the reflecting objects; a white medium
reflects only light ; but coloured media, especially those of
warm tint, convey both light and colour ; an effect which
ve^ extensively subserves to general harmony of tone.
Keflexes are necessarily always some degrees below the
general breadth of the lights, but they may be of any
hue, inasmuch as the reflecting medium may be of any
colour. If the reflected passage be simple, it may be at
once embodied with the shade or glazing; but if the parts
be complicated and involve much drawing and modelling.
44 THE TREATMENT OF PERSONAL DEFECT.
the latter, if the material admits of it, had better be care-
fully executed in the general shade tint, and the colour
either blended in while the picture is wet, or worked over
when it is dry, as the feeling of the passage may suggest.
THE TREATMENT OF PERSONAL DEFECT.
The judicious painter places his sitters according to
their respective ages, and the character of their features.
Children and young people he places near him, but per-
sons of middle age and those of more advanced years, are
placed as far from the easel as may be convenient for
obtaining the character of the features.
The reason of this is sufficiently obvious; in painting
the former he cannot see too much of the bloom and
luxuriance of youth, but in painting the latter he ought
to see and feel as little as possible of the traces of age.
The imitation of any defect of feature, whether natural
or accidental, tends very strongly to identify resemblance ;
and as defects are much more readily seized by an in-
diflferent painter than beauties, it is most probable that a
beginner would rather dwell upon the blemish than veil it,
and seek to show the better points of the countenance.
If a complexion be coarse in colour, and show a net-
work of minute ramifying blood-vessels, having the fur-
rows on the brow and the crowds foot under the eye
unusually deeply graven, and the cheek overhanging the
upper lip from the wing of the nose — these are all points
which might be seized, and being verified upon the canvas
every spectator would applaud the likeness, but not one
would approve of his own portrait so faithfully rendered.
The markings in the face of a man being more decided
than those in the features of a subject of the other sex, the
character of the former is much more readily caught than
that of the latter ; and in consequence of an entire deficiency
of strong point and matured character in the faces of
THB TREATMENT OF PERSONAL DEFECT. 43
children^ these are mucli more difficult to paint than
either of the two former. Some artists insist that the
hces of all children of tender years may be painted alike^
and such is their practice ; but this proposition no one
will ever admit who is at all earnest in the study of the
It is perfectly legitimate practice not only to veil and
soften down accidental and natural defects^ but even in
some cases entirely to omit them. And a due distinc-
tion should be observed between permanent and transient
The eyes, nose, and mouth must be brought forward
with all the reaUty due to the leading features of the face ;
but all incidental and supplemental characteristics which
either break up the breadths of the study, or point an
unfavourable allusion, as the wrinkles on the brow of age,
or even the dimples on the cheek of youth, cannot be
painted with all the direct force of the life. It is an
utterly false position to say, that because they are there,
they must be marked as strongly as in Nature ; for how
successfully soever any result of years, or accident, may
be imitated in a portrait, it will always appear upon the
canvas infinitely more prominent than in Nature, because,
although a picture be masterly to the last degree, it is not
yet the living creature. There may be eloquence in all the
features, but there is not yet that vital argument in the
mouth and responsive communion in the eyes, which
detach the sense from the individual observation of the
effect of accident or the traces of age. True it is, if we
consider these apart, and paint them as we behold them
individually, they may be perfectly just in representation ;
but they will, nevertheless, appear unduly exaggerated in
a picture. When the eye of the spectator is engaged
by that of the sitter, he still sees those points, but they
are generalized ; and if the student could accustom
46 THE TREATMENT OF PERSONAL DEFECT.
himself to paint such effects as he thus sees them, he
would realize that desideratum in portraiture — general
But in case the beginner should receive a predominant
impression from what we have said on this subject, it is
necessary to caution him against so far palliating these
appearances as to injure the resemblance. We can only
point out the proprieties of practice, he must look to his
own perseverance for power of execution, which, with
experience, will instruct him in each case how far he may
insist upon those points of individuality upon which
And it must be remembered that as the education of
the painter renders him susceptible of the beauties of
form and expression he becomes proportionably sensitive
of personal defect ; and in dealing with each, it is probable
that he might instance the latter more effectively than the
former, because it is easier to paint the one than describe
The treatment of the portraits of aged persons is an
extremely important consideration. In proceeding with
such a study, the beginner will regard individually all
those indications which betoken age. We may in such
case counsel him in representing any markings on the
forehead to lay, first, the light ridge and then the darker
furrows, as in this manner he will be less likely to
exaggerate than if he reversed the order of proceeding;
and then none but the most conspicuous markings must
A personal defect may disfigure only one side of the
face. In this case, such a view of the features will be
taken as shall exclude the blemish from view. Any
inequality in the eyes, for instance, may be dealt with in
HANDLING AND TEXTURE. 47
HANDLING AND TEXTURE.
As some of the most valuable qualities of execution
depend upon a knowledge of the extent of representation
to which we may attain with colour and oil, it were well
to endeavour to ascertain this point ; because no amount
of elaboration can force or improve the properties of oil
and colour in truth of representation, but every effort to
pass a certain limit only tends to vitiate any lifelike
property which may have been communicated to the work.
No two experienced artists employ the brush precisely
in the same way. Handling and touch are peculiar to
each; and numerous as are the recognised schools of art,
there is yet some peculiarity of execution by which the
work of each hand is recognisable ; and limited and inex-
pressive though the simple application of oil-colour to
canvas may seem to be, there will yet be read in the
manner of this application hundreds of names, all differing
in the characters in which they shall be written.
The methods of settling surface-colour into texture will
be a question with the beginner. Some artists having
laid it with decided and spirited touches proceed to soften
with the brush any parts that require uniting. Others
work the brush in a manner to round the features accord-
ing to the drawing; and this perhaps were a commendable
practice for students, provided every care be taken to
avoid sullying either the lights or shades by blending
them. Texture can only be obtained when there is a
sufficient body of colour ; and painters to whom practice
has given confidence, load their lights and seek to obtain
texture early in the progress of their work — that is in a
second painting, which they regard as only a part of the
When the lights and gradations have been so carefully
48 HANDLING AND TEXTURE.
laid as to preserve them in all their freshness, it will be
necessary, in order to secure a perfect harmony of parts,
to pass a thin and long-haired brush lightly, but freely,
over the whole work.
It may be here and there necessary to lay an inter-
mediate tint where the tones do not sufficiently approach
each other. In this case, compose with the point of the
brush such a tint as may harmonize with both, and unite
the whole, if necessary, with a clean brush; but the
surface must not be worked into a mealy smoothness.
All corrections and emendations are much better effected
when the picture is dry than when it is wet ; if therefore
in painting the parts of the work the process should not
be attended with tolerable success, it would be better at
once to leave the whole to dry, when the default will be
most easily remedied by a student. With some experience,
he might be recommended to remove all the wet colour by
one sweep of the palette-knife, and having recovered the
ground by wiping it perfectly clean with a rag moistened
with a little turpentine, he might repaint the passage ; but
this method of correction at an early period of study
might imperil the entire work.
Handling and textures do not appear in the shades, for
these are generally painted with extreme thinness; but
it is the breadths of light laid with a body of colour that
receive texture according to the manner of the touch.
Some artists use a softener for uniting their gradations,
but this is most commonly effected by the brush. A
softener, in the hands of a beginner, frequently tempts
him to reduce his work to that flatness which it should
be his great purpose to guard against. If any small
ridges of colour be too prominent, or the application of
the brush be otherwise desirable, a clean brush with long
haur will answer all purposes of softening.
PALETTES FOR BACKGROUNDS. 49
PALETTES FOR BACKGROUNDS.
rOR PLAIN AND CLOSE BACKGROUNDS.
It will be understood from what we have already said
on the subject of palettes^ that it is not necessary to place
all the colours on the palette at the same time ; but such
a selection will be made as may suit the proposed back-
White, Black, and Vermillion; or, if required stronger, substitute
Indian Red for Vermillion.
Black and White ; employed to lighten parts that are too dark, or to*
reduce those that are too warm.
Brown Ochre and White.
Terre Verte, Umber, and Naples Yellow.
Black and Burnt Sienna*
50 PALETTES FOR BACKGROUNDS.
Black, White, and Umber.
Black, White, Umber, and Yellow.
Umber and White.
Numerous other tints, varying according to the propor-
tions of the warm or cold colours, and which work admi-
rably when broken by others, are composed of —
Black, White, and Burnt Sienna.
Antwerp Blue, Venetian Red, and White.
Terre Verte, Indian Red, and White.
LANDSCAPE OR OPEN BACKGROUND.
This background may be a landscape, a passage of
garden scenery, or any composition, either entirely open
or partially closed by foliage.
A few landscape tints, which may serve ordinary pur-
poses, we suggest to the student
FOR SKIES AND CLOUDS.
Yellow Ochre and White.
Vermillion, Yellow Ochre, and White.
Madder Lake, Yellow Ochre, and White.
French Blue, Raw Umber, and White.
French Blue, Vermillion, and White.
Where it is intended that the sky shall be very dark a
little Black will reduce the cold tints to any degree.
Should it be desirable to express a remote distance in
the picture, this may be done with the cloud tints broken
With the following, with which we approach the fore-
White, French Blue, and Light Red.
White, Terre Verte, and Light Red.
White, Terre Verte, and Prussian Blue.
PAINTING A PLAIN BACKGROUND. 51
These tints may be met and broken by others, to
which Madder Lake, Brown Ochre, Venetian Red, Raw
Timber^ and other strong foreground colours should eon-
Any foliage constituting a part of an open background
should not be painted with a raw Green, but the hue
must be mellowed with either Lake, Burnt Umber, or
some warm colour.
METHOD OF PAINTING A PLAIN BACKGROUND.
It may be well to commence by laying the darker por-
tions of the ground. This may be done with Black and
Burnt Sienna, or any other dark tint, as the feeling of the
ground may incline to warm or cold. The colour should
be driven sparingly, since this will enable the student to
work into it with greater faciUty. Having laid those
darkest portions, meet them with some sympathizing tint
that will maintain the proposed character of the back-
ground, and thence proceed to the lightest parts ; those, it
may be, which are cut by the drawing of the head. The
lightest part of the background, wherever it may be deter-
mined, supplies the key -tone to all the rest, and may be
laid somewhat lighter than intended to be, when finished.
From this point the tints graduate to the shade tones,
which the intermediate degrees may approach, with a
touch slightly clouded, to avoid any tendency to poverty
If any change in tint or tone be necessary, it may be
eflfected by glazing the faulty passage with a thin tint,
warm or cold as it may be, and working into the glaze
with a lighter or darker tone, according to the necessity
of the case. When this ground is dry, it will derive
depth from being glazed with suitable tints composed of
Black, Madder, Burnt Sienna, Raw Sienna, Cobalt, Umber,
&c., in combinations of two or three together.
52 PAINTING A PLAIN BACKGROUND.
The colour of a plain background may be agreeably
broken and varied. It may contain, with good effect,
clouded masses represented by tints different in coIo^ht,
but harmoniously blended. The place of such shadowy
and indistinct forms should be as far removed as possible
from the head. We frequently see heads admirably
reUeved by clouded composition, similar to a dark and
tumultuous sky ; but it must he remembered that these
forms, and their outlines, must be so broken and softened
as in nowise to interfere with the head. This kind of
clouded background may be made out with dark grey
tints formed of White, Black, and some of the Reds
forced here and there with French Blue.
A wall or panelling, when representing a background,
should be painted at once ; and should it be necessary to
break it with shade, or to enrich it with reflected colour,
^ this may be done by glazing it when it is dry, and paint-
ing into the glaze.
We frequently see in ffenre and historical subjects the
accessories so highly finished as to come before the figures,
that is, to importune the eye to the disadvantage of the
figures. It is thus, when the composition contains objec-
tive that is susceptible of finish, and does justice to it.
To elaborate their accessories too highly is a common
error with beginners, it detracts from the importance of
By treating accessories with breadth and .freedom, and
massing them judiciously, we obtain an effect at once
advantageous to the figure and easily practicable as to
finish. When such an effect is obtained, there is no dif-
ficulty in determining the necessary degree of elabora-
tion ; it is then felt that extreme detail is injurious.
These remarks apply particularly to the nearest foliage,
by which a figure may be relieved in a partially open
composition. There is no precise definition of leaves, or
very natural study of branches ; the masses of leafage arq
RELIEF OP THE HEAD, OR THE FIGURE. 53
intended to withdraw from the eye, while they throw the
figure forward, and with such view they are very freely
touched, the most obvious parts being their forms, whicn
must studiously contribute to the relief of the figure.
- THE RELIEF OF THE HEAD, OR THE nOUBE.
It is frequently the practice of accomplished painters
to finish the head entirely before touching any other part
of the work. The head or figure being completed, or
nearly so, the most careful consideration must be given
to the background, which must subserve to the points and
character of the portrait. Nothing so materially aids the
efi'ect of a picture as a judiciously disposed background ;
and nothing so readily destroys the best- intent ioned pro-
duction as negligence or injudicious treatment in this
The background must support the figure in such a
manner that the latter has not the appearance of having
been cut out and pasted on a dark or a light surface;
an efi'ect continually seen in the works of the fathers of
the art. The lines and the light and shade of the figure
determine what parts are to be relieved, and what parts
sunk in the background.
All passages of beautiful form must be relieved and
brought forward, a precept which naturally suggests that
less successful or agreeable parts — those which are incor-
rigibly heavy, angular or inelegant — may be lost in the
No painter with any lovo of his art could be satisfied
with painting all his tigurt's in one pose, and so employ
i stereotyped background upon all occasions. Were
^it would not be difficult to copy almost every
e from some good picture. In the exercise of
t,cvery painter is continually experiment-
i at all hands that even the most
54 RELIEF OP THE HEAD, OR THE FIGURE.
exalted genius is extremely uneqaal^ he will be content
to err in such society in the course of his researches.
Sir Joshua Reynolds has said that no painter knew so
well as Teniers what proportions of sharp outline to leave
in his compositions. The amount and dispositions of
this is of the utmost importance in every picture. It
will be found that the cutting outline in pictures, of
which the chiaroscuro has been successfully studied,
bears a limited proportion in contrast to the softened
and sunk lines. The principal of a compleic arrangement
is applicable to a single figure, the effect. of which will be
enhanced by few cutting lines.
Sometimes it may be advisable to continue the lights of
the figure into the background, the result of this is
breadth ; in such a case, the treatment of the dark side
of the figure is frequently to sink it into a yet darker
Kxperience will teach the student the immense import-
ance of a judiciously adapted background. He will
soon recognise the value of that which, to a person
entirely ignorant of the principles of art, might seem to
be caprice or accident; that is, the opposition to the
features, of colour hot or cold, according to circumstances.
For the temporary relief of the head, and the defi-
nition of outline, it is necessary in the progress of the
study to rub in a little colour. Red, Blue or Yellow, that
which will best suit the complexion; and should the effect
be successful, such a composition may afterwards be intro-
duced as shall return the colour in its place.
When the student has acquired a perception of the
comparative value and merit of a background compo-
sition, he must not blindly adopt materials from works of
acknowledged excellence. He must not appropriate a
drapery and a pillar, or an open background, or a group
of trees with foliage, because it looks well in this or that
picture. He must study the principle of the compq-
RELIEF OF THE HEAD, OR THE FIGURE. 55
sition, and if lie make himself master of that, he can
compose a background upon the same principle without
absolutely appropriating the materials. He must observe
the most advantageous means of carrying out this part of
his composition, by considering the purposes of melting
and sinking passages of the outline ; the means of sup-
porting the flesh tints and giving them their true value,
by the harmony or contrast of warm or cold colours, and
the manner of communicating richness, depth and natural
truth to the glazings. He must study every means of
concealing any poverty of line or form in the figure, with
the aid of the background ; and by close attention to the
resources which it aflFords, he will in time be able, in deal-
ing with figures possessing but few good points, so to
reheve them as even to circumstance them in such a
manner, that the fofrte and not the faible of the picture
shall be the characteristic.
In the treatment of a half-length figure there is much
more space to dispose of, than in a three-quarter or head-
sized canvas. This space must be broken up into various
breadths of chiaroscuro and lines that in opposition to
those of the figure shall form as great a diversity as
the composition will admit of; these being treated in the
same manner as those of the figure, that is, now absorbed
in some parts of the composition, now relieved by oppo-
sition to others.
We sometimes see heads tolerably well painted pre-
sented with a form of background, which in these days
ought to be entirely obsolete; we mean that artificial
arrangement — dark on one side of the head, and light
on the other. Artists who have extensively practised
this arrangement in simple bust portraits never ex-
tend the principle in all its rigidity to a full-length
figure, a circumstance which ought to demonstrate the
It has been a principle with many of the most eminent
56 RELIEF OF THE HEAD, OR THE FIGURE.
portrait painters of our school to sacrifice everything to
the head ; according to this principle, the greater the field
of canvas to be covered, the greater the sacrifice. In a
full-length portrait, for instance, every object of the com-
position was kept low in tone ; and as the eye descended,
the lower portion of the canvas presented only sombre
tones and indefinite forms. Every part of the compo-
sition was carried out in the precise degree of force that
it might be supposed to represent when not directly
viewed; that is, the lines and parts of the composition
bore that proportion to the head which they would have,
if, in supposing a tableau vivant of such a composition
we should fix the eye upon the features, and paint every
object according to the degree in which it appeared with-
out being directly viewed. This principle, when under-
stood and judiciously carried out, as it may be seen in
pictures not intended to \ie with exhibition pictures in
glaring colour, will endow the head of a full-length
figure with all the force due to it as the life and soul of
A general manner of relieving the head is to bring that
part of the background immediately round it, down to
such a tone as shall sufficiently throw forward the high
lights and middle tints of the features, being at the same
time so much lighter than the drawing and markings of
the head, as to be clearly cut by the darker outlines. No
precise rule can be given for any standard degree of tone.
Every intelligent student will see at once how entirely
this depends upon the treatment of the head. In this
manner the appearance of depth and distance is obtained,
which may be further promoted by the introduction of
some object removed from the eye.
In a simple bust portrait, the introduction of any
accessory is, to say the least, injudicious. Nothing will
be found so becoming to works of this size as a plain
background; but in works larger than this, accessory
VARIETIES OF METHOD. 57
frequently becomes indispensable. In Kit-cats and half-
lengths^ where the arms are necessarily introduced, some
object, as a chair or table, or both, may be necessary to
account for the pose ; but everything should properly
be withheld that does not either assist the composition,
or relate to the dignity, or position, of the person re-
VARIETIES OF METHOD.
In a course of practical instruction, it is embarrassing
to a student, to propose to his consideration anything
beyond a series of simple precepts, whereby he may arrive
at a desired end. As, however, in painting no two artists
arrive at the same conclusion by precisely similar means,
we advert briefly to a few of the endless variety of
methods pursued in painting a picture or a portrait. It
is these marked differences that constitute the excellence
or the imperfection of the executipu of works of art.
A portrait may be admirable in colour, but defective in
drawing. It may, on the other hand, be perfect in draw-
ing, but dry and unnatural in colour ; it may seem as if it
would yield to the pressure of the finger, or it may be
repulsively hard ; there is, indeed, a multiplicity of pro-
perties and disqualifications which may characterize a pic-
ture which no description could render intelligible to a
student. We may, however, simply mention a few of
the methods by which the best qualities are secured.
It is professed to have been a principle with the
Venetian school, by the members of which colour was
carried to the utmost excellence, to lay the dead colour of
flesh with a series of cold or grey tints, and this method
is practised by many artists. When understood and
judiciously treated, this dead colouring preserves through-
out the last stage all the tints of the finishing process,
cool and transparent. This dead colour, like all others,
must be laid lighter than the picture is to appear when
finished. The opacity and substance of t\y^^^\xok^^Va««sij^
58 VARIETIES OF METHOD.
overlaid with transparent colour, will produce an effect
of great brilliancy.
When the finishing colours are the same as those with
which the preparatory painting has been executed, the
effect will be heavy, opaque, and altogether devoid of the
lifelike brilliancy observable in Nature ; but a succession
of warm tones upon cold produces a result inconceivably
No opportunity should be lost of examining, and if
possible of studymg, meritorious works. It is by close
observation that we learn and see more than can be
communicated, either verbally or in writing. In de-
scribing the process of painting a head, it is impossible
to propose rules which shall meet the emergencies of
even one case, for all present different exercises of
practice. In the absence, however, of experience, a care-
ful observation of the practice of others will always
supply something available and worthy of imitation,
either in dispositions of form, light, and shade, or in
It is, and has been, customary with many very eminent
portrait painters to glaze their works twice or thrice. The
charm of a glaze is so seductive, that it frequently tempts
the painter to glaze too deeply, in which case all the fresh,
natural, and cool tones of the picture are destroyed. To
avoid this, there is no other criterion than Nature ; the
picture should not be glazed in the absence of the sitter.
It is glazed generally at the commencement of the second
painting, which is immediately proceeded with on this
wet ground, employing both opaque and transparent
colour as may be required; but always working with a
view to the finishing glaze, that is, keeping the tone of
the whole some degrees higher than it is intended to be
Colour is a great desideratum in portraiture ; compared
with the number of portrait painters, there are but few
who may be called fine colourists. Colour is the quality
VARIETIES OF METHOD. 59
which has contributed to the preservation of the works of
our eminent portrait painters. Many of their works sre
valueless as portraits, but inestimable as pictures. When
Reynolds, speaking of colour, told the students to " think
of a ripe peach,^^ he very pithily described the tendency
of his own thoughts when painting ; and when the picture
was finished all acknowledged that the peach was there,
but in the realization of this, the resemblance had fre-
quently been forgotten.
Likeness is, however, by no means incompatible with
fine colour, as we see in fine examples of Reynolds him-
self, and of every eminent painter before and since his
time. But in *' thinking of the peach,'' the likeness
must also be thought of. It is a common and a success-
ful method of practice to make a perfect study of the
likeness entirely with a view to a finishing glaze, which
is then worked simply as a study of colour, the only care
necessary being to preserve entire the resemblance already
obtained. A student might essay this method with great
probability of success, because his attention is occupied
by only one at a time of the two great qualities of por-
traiture. Likeness is sometimes extremely diflScult to
obtain, and in such case, by repeated corrections and re-
paintings, heaviness and opacity are sure to ensue; the
best remedy for which is, to recommence the study, and
to endeavour so far to profit by the failure, as to avoid a
second such embroilment.
In works of the best class we always find the colour
and effect admirably enhanced by the darkest markings
about the head. We always feel their presence and
influence, but we do not see them individually until we
look for them. The effect of otherwise highly meritorious
^orks is, in a great measure, destroyed for want of
natural force in these valuable points. They are frequently
put in, in the first sketch with great spirit, but as the
work proceeds they are superseded; yet by the judicious
artist they are never lost sight of, he make* ttks.^^ >^^\s!^^
60 VARIETIES OF METHOD.
instramental in rounding the head, in clearing up the
shade tints of the flesh, and forcing the higher tones into
light and brilliancy. If we studiously examine any head
which we are about to paint, we shall find the relation of
light and shade so nicely adjusted, that no portion of
either can be reduced without manifest injury to the
study ; and, supposing the head to be judiciously lighted,
there is no trick of treatment that ought to supersede the
truth of the real relations of the light and shade.
We say judiciously, because the lighting of the subject
is a most essential point ; for instance, the experienced
painter regulates his light according to the age and
characteristics of his sitter. He will never place aged
persons under a high light, because the markings of the
face — such as the furrows on the brow, the falling of the
mouth, and other indications of years — become more
decidedly marked than in the ordinary daylight by which
they are seen.
It may be well supposed that as the facilities of execu-
tion are acquired by practice, even the first painting may,
in skilful hands, be made to approach very closely to the
life. The accomplished artist has no difficulty in study-
ing at one and the same time the drawing, colour, and
character of the mask ; and very often there are passages
of a first painting laid in with so much felicity and truth
that they are never again touched upon, because they
cannot be improved.
Whatever may be the state of a first or second painting,
whether much or little relatively may have been done,
we find those works which have been effectively brought
forward assume, at the last painting, the resemblance of
the sitter as seen at a little distance. It was a practice
of Sir Thomas Lawrence to place his easel by the side o'f
his sitter, and so work upon the portrait, retiring to
examine his work, and then advancing to touch upon it
when he had determined what was to be done. One
valuable result^ at least, of this will be breadth, which is
DRAPERIES. 6 1
frequently lost by working very near the sitter, and keep-
ing the picture always immediately under the eye.
The casting, or composition of draperies, has been com-
paratively little studied by the painters of our school;
sculptors have necessarily given more attention to this,
as an essential item of their education. In some of the
foreign schools of art, draperies form a distinct branch of
study, which is sedulously pursued through a long course ;
and hence the beautiful arrangement and composition of
folds, seen especially in the works of living members of
the German school.
In painting the dresses of ladies it will be well under-
stood, that in cases where the material is such as to
require considerable elaboration, this cannot be effected
from the sitter. When dresses and draperies require
particular study, it will be necessary to make a sketch of
the proposed dispositions, either in chalk or water-colour ;
and the dress or drapery will be adjusted as nearly as pos-
sible, according to these forms, upon the lay figure. In
this memorandum, all th^t it is necessary to obtain is
the general form which it is desired to preserve ; detail
will be abundantly supplied by the folds into which the
dress will fall on the figure.
In working from such an arrangement, it is not neces-
sary to copy every fold ; as breadth and variety of line
must be maintained, a selection of these may be made,
omitting repetitions or continuations where they cut up
the composition. Thus, a departure from the complex
detail is immaterial, if the general form and character be
observed, insomuch as to render faithfully the dispositions
of light and shade. The light must be introduced on
that side which will afford the greatest breadth of effect,
and any particular points of projection, or otherwise, must
be merged in the general form.
Of whatever amplitude a drapery may be, it is neces-
sary that the form of the sitter be indicated in such parts
as the composition and pose may admit. The repetition of
folds of the same length and strength do not contribute to
good composition in a hanging drapery ; as, for instance,
in the lower part of a lady^s dress there will always be a
multiplicity of similar folds, but they must be selected and
arranged so as best to assist the forms and light and
Draperies composed of thick material are always much
more advantageous than those formed of thin stuflFs,
because the folds are few, and thus we obtain breadth
without any departure from the given dispositions.
In thin materials the folds are numerous and generally
ineffective; therefore, in order to remedy this defect it
would be advisable to arrange the drapery in such a man-
ner as to obtain some large folds, for the sake of variety ;
and in order to procure shade to break here and there the
breadth of light.
All textUe materials are definable as coarse or fine by
the appearance of the folds which they form. So it is in
painting linen ; it is represented coarse or fine according
to the substance of the plaits or folds.
Linen may be successfully painted with Ivory Black,
or Blue, Black and White, slightly warmed with Umber in
the markings, and forced yet further with Yellow, or a
small proportion of Red where the linen approaches the
skin, or receives warm reflection.
It is easUy painted in the form in which we always see
it worn by men ; but the varieties of texture presented by
the white proportion of the dress of ladies requires a very
different mode of treatment. In the former case it may
ife soJJdJf paintedj bat in the latter, it is most probably
WHITE SATIN. 63
some transparent material that must be painted over a
studiously prepared ground.
Satins cast distinct shadows, like other bodies ; but
these darks, from the nature of the material, are qualified
by strong reflections, and they receive lights in the midst
of half-tints, even in prominent parts, without any violent
opposition. The stiffness of the material causes sudden
breaks and terminations, and the like cause gives to the
folds a conical form. These breaks are indicated in the
light parts by shades, or dark half tints and reflections,
and in the dark parts by slightly graduated shining
White satins have different tones, both warm and cold.
With the following palette any of these may be success-
fully imitated, by selecting and graduating the tints to
meet the hue and tones of the material :
White and Raw Umber.
White and Ivory Black.
White, Raw Umber, and Ivory Black.
White, and Indian Red.
White, Black, and Indian Red.
Brown Ochre and White,
Ultramarine and White.
In painting all black and dark materials, it is necessary
to keep the shades and markings transparent and decided,
which is effected by sustaining them in opposition to broad
lights. We frequently see the dead colouring of black
satin laid in with black and white, and some warm brown,
such as Burnt Umber ; but the finishing of black satin,
is, perhaps, best borne out by red. Thus, the drapery
may be sketched with Indian Red and Black, and Light
Red may be used in the higher lights. The tints for
finishing may be composed of White, Black, and a little.
64 THE FIGURE.
Lake ; the middle tint the same, with more of Black ;
and the deepest tint. Lake, Brown Fink, and Black ; and
the reflexes may be painted with the shade tint, with the
addition of a Uttle Brown Ochre.
Velvets, and also furs, have the peculiarity of present-
ing as dark all prominent parts unbroken by lights. The
lights are found in the edges, and in all receding parts.
In consequence of the substantial, and yet pliant nature
of velvet, its folds are larger, and break less angularly in
proportion, than other fabrics. The folds of velvet receive
lights on their edges, the ridges being dark.
SETTING THE FIGURE.
Some knowledge of composition is necessary to set a
figure effectively; for the play of line dependent on the
pose, and the dispositions of the limbs must be as care-
fully considered as the minor parts of a complicated
picture. In large pictures a single figure may form only
a subservient link, or assist in continuing a fine of light,
or may serve as a point in a breadth of shade or of light ;
but when a single figure constitutes the picture, we look
in it for the principles of composition, as far as a single
figiu'e can be made to exemplify them. Had we the space
we could illustrate fully and simply what is grateful to
the educated eye, in the balance and disposition of linear
composition, by reference to the remnants of classic art ;
but, in the first place, we have not space in this little
Essay, which is principally devoted to portraiture, to do
justice to such a subject ; and, again, it is probable that
even casts of the classic models may not be readily acces-
sible to many persons into whose hands this book may fall.
A model set for drawing or painting from, should be
posed in such a manner, as by sentiioent or action, to con-
SETTING THE FIGURE. 65
vey an allusion. If we look at an Egyptian statue, it may
have the hands hanging by the side, and its feet may be
placed close together, both of which arrangements are
instances of bad composition. The figure may be per-
fectly erect, and looking straight before it, without any
definite purpose ; it wants, therefore, expression and relief.
If, on the contrary, we look at a Greek statue — say the
Fighting Gladiator — the pose at once declares an object,
— every muscle of the figure is braced for the encounter,
and the action and firmness of the lower limbs, and the
disposition of the arms, are contributive to the narra-
tive ; hence, in all figures that are well set, if the expres-
sion be that of repose, the body will be in relief, that is,
in some easy and natural position, and the limbs will be
so disposed as to aflford a variety of line. But if the
action be violent there will be a display of anatomy, and
still the movement and disposition of the limbs will be
It is only in the masculine figure that violent action is
shown ; the poses of the feminine figure are generally
quiescent, being seated or otherwise supported, and dis-
posed rather for sentiment than action.
The figure is generally set under a high light, in order
that the detail be sufficiently pronounced. In many
schools the drawing and painting is conducted entirely by
gaslight ; and with respect to this light, it was remarked
by the late B. R. Haydon, that if particular brilliancy were
desirable it was more readily obtainable by painting by
gas, or lamplight, than by daylight. The same means
employed to assist the narrative in large pictures, are
available accessories to a single figure, as, for instance,
draperies, or any objects or material which may be con-
sistent with the allusion.
PAINTING THE FIGURE.
A study of the figure is brought forward in a manner
very different from that of painting a portrait — that is to
66 PAINTING THE FIGURE.
say, in the latter, the object is glowing transparency with
a surface that seems as if it would yield to the touch ;
while, in the former, the purpose is a firm and muscular
surface represented principally by solid painting. By
such means it is, that the colour of our ordinary models
is imitated ; but in pictures wherein the artist represents
impersonations in poetical or historical composition, he
paints them as they would be under such circumstances,
bronzed perhaps by the sun and weather.
The figure having been sketched in with charcoal, as in
the case of the portrait (for we presume on the part of
the painter a knowledge of figure-drawing), and all the
proportions revised and adjusted, the outline may be veiy
carefully made either with a chalk point, or a hair pencil,
charged with some warm middle tint. The model, in
most schools, stands two hours each day, for a period of
six days ,• and the first two hours cannot be better em-
ployed than in making a careful outline study of the
figure, with all the markings slightly put in. It is very
seldom that the model maintains the spirit of the original
pose until the completion of the study ; if, therefore, the
painter cannot at once catch the first dispositions of the
figure, and paint them, assisted by his knowledge of
anatomy, he must work out the pose into which the model
most frequently falls; for weariness, and other causes,
operate against the rigid maintenance of a pose long
together, and in the nude figure the slightest change is
important, although, in the dressed model, it would be
It would be well to imitate, as nearly as possible, the
clear and delicate hues of the skin ; for which purpose a
selection of the following tints, in different degrees, will
be sufficient :
White and Naples Yellow.
White, Naples Yellow, and Vermillion.
White and Light Red.
White, Naples Yellow, and L\g\it UftCi.
PAINTING THE FIGURE. 67
White, Naples Yellow, and Madder Lake.
White and Madder Lake.
White, Madder Lake, and Terre Verte.
Terre Verte, Indian Red, and Black.
Terre Verte and Indian Red.
Madder Lake and Raw Sienna.
Madder Lake and Raw Umber.
White, Black, and Vermillion.
Black and Burnt Sienna.
Skilfal painters will execute a small figure very rapidly
after having drawn it in; transparency and softness is
obtained by despatch, but for a careful study six evenings
will be found by no means too much.
In laying in the dead colouring of the figure, great
firmness and decision will be obtained by employing but
little vehicle. It is customary to begin the painting as
the drawing, by the head, which having been brought up
as nearly as possible to Nature, the neck and shoulders
will follow, and the student will work downwards until
the whole has been gone over. It will be remembered
that in painting the figure we are no longer painting a
portrait ; if, therefore, the character or expression of the
model be not sufficiently good, character must be im-
proved and idealized ; and it were well that the painter
should accustom himself to this; because, in a picture,
there is always wanted more than can be obtained from
If the model be so posed as to be in any considerable
degree in shade, it would be well to consider this part,
first laying it in breadth, and marking the reflexes with a
warm tint. It is essentially necessary in painting from
the draped figure to study and paint small portions at a
time, from the impossibility of procuring each sitting
precisely the same folds and dispositions of drapery.
From a like cause it would be well to study only parts of
the figure at a time — ^taking the neck and shoulders— the
parts of which in a front view of the figure, which would
particularly demand attention, would be the muscles of
the neck, the markings at the top of the stemmn^thft
lines of the deltoid, and the pectorals. The careful
drawing and nice gradations of these parts should be
scrupulously made out, working from the stronger shades
up to the lights ; and this part of the figure being com-
pleted, the others may be similarly treated, until the
whole be worked over. The finishing of the figure con-
sists in glazing and deepening the shadows, and heighten-
ing the lights. It will be found that the extremities are
the most diflScult to paint. They may be sketched lightly
and freely with the point, but the greatest exactitude and
'delicacy will be necessary in painting them, — the hands
not less than the feet.
The limits of our little book have compelled us to treat
with brevity many parts of our Essay which might have
been treated at much greater length ; but as the work
is addressed to those who possess a very slight knowledge
of portrait painting, or it may be none at all, we have
confined ourselves to precepts simply practical, in order
that the progress of the student may not be embar-
rassed by theories which would be wholly unintelligible
without a certain amount of practice. By the processes
recommended, the most beautiful results may be realized ;
and we believe the palettes proposed for the flesh -painting
to be equal to any that can be given. It only remains for
us, therefore, to commend to the painter, perseverance and
industry ; it was a maxim with Sir Joshua Reynolds, that
with such qualities every degree of ability might hope for
H certain amount of success.
Piinted by SchuXze and Co., IS, PoUwd Street.